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Monday, April 22, 2024

Cabinet brands £100m investment in Kirklees “crumbs off the table”

The money will benefit major projects in Huddersfield and Dewsbury

Over £100m in Levelling Up Funding is set to benefit regeneration projects across Kirklees, but a senior councillor has described the government’s offerings as “crumbs off the table”.

On Tuesday 12 March, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet formally accepted cash injections to fund plans for the Huddersfield Open Market (£16.6m), Penistone Railway Line (£47.9m), Dewsbury Blueprint (£20m) and the West Yorkshire Life Sciences Investment Zone (£17m).

For each of the projects, the council submitted bids to the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), and each was successful. Funding was previously allocated from the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) for two other council projects – the Batley and Marsden Blueprints.

Plans for Huddersfield market include restoring the Grade II* Listed structure on Northumberland Street and strengthening the new and improved market’s offering. The council hopes that this will give people more reasons to visit Huddersfield and encourage extra footfall to surrounding businesses.

The Penistone Railway Line is an important transport link running between Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield, via Barnsley. The investment will be used to improve infrastructure and access along the route, allowing for more frequent, faster and more comfortable journeys.

The twenty million pounds towards the Dewsbury Blueprint comes as part of the government’s ‘Long-Term Plan’ and builds on the existing £25m of Towns Fund money allocated to Dewsbury in 2021. The £20m will be released over the next decade and the council is currently working on more detailed plans for the funding.

Cllr Graham Turner of Kirklees Council Image: LDRS

The new Investment Zone will support innovation in the health, wellbeing and digital industries. The council will be receiving this cash boost alongside other local authorities across West Yorkshire, to boost innovation, productivity and growth, and to support the commercialisation of important research in these areas.

Cllr Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Regeneration said: “Of course we welcome this Levelling Up investment in Kirklees but after 14 years of under-investment and starving us of cash, it does feel a little bit like a few crumbs off the table.

“I’m obviously very supportive of all the Levelling Up Funds but the investment Zone money is probably the best news for Kirklees as that will allow us to start to develop our Station to Stadium Gateway Project which will bring in much-needed jobs and supports this Cabinet’s ambition to create high paid, high-skilled jobs and grow our local economy.”

Leader of the Green Group, Cllr Andrew Cooper, attended the meeting and said it is “great news” that money is being put towards the Penistone Railway Line. However, he pointed out that the £47m being awarded is significantly less than the “excess of £100m” needed for the entire project.

He wanted to know what the council’s plans are for bringing in some additional cash. In response, Cllr Turner said the local authority is looking at various sources, including the possibility of some funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

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